An elephant calf deserted by his mother barely hours after birth and spotted just outside the forest area three days ago, has found a foster mother in the staff of Bandipur elephant camp.
The male calf was spotted on the outskirts of Shivapura village, about a kilometre away from Gopalaswamy Betta Range last Friday.
After arranging milk for the newborn, the forest staff waited a day for the mother. Since she did not turn up and fearing that predators may attack the calf if left unattended, he was wheeled into the elephant camp on Saturday.
Now the three-day-old calf is doing well and is active.
Dr Nagaraj, a vet, said the calf is being taken care of like a human baby with boiled and sterilised soya milk. It is being hand-reared and fed milk eight times a day. From Monday evening, he was also being given Lactogen-1.
Conservator of Forest Kantharaju said it is not easy to take care of a calf abandoned immediately after birth as breast feeding plays an important role in developing the immunity of any animal.
“In past cases, we had other mother elephants in camp to feed orphans. But this calf is not lucky enough. However, we are ensuring that he lacks nothing,” he added.
An employee has been appointed exclusively to take care of the calf with a promise that he will be continued if the calf survives.
It is being monitored round-the-clock, he said. He said it is rare to see an elephant calf abandoned on the very day of its birth.
“It is not for the first time that an elephant calf is being handreared as we have got 15-30 days old calf. But probably it is first time that we have spotted a calf which was orphaned on the very day of its birth,” he said. Kantaraju said usually a calf is discarded by a mother during her first delivery as she is not mature.
It appears that the mother was alone at the time of birth and not part of a herd, he added.